Tuesday, June 24, 2014

I Was Just Sniffing, And...

How in the world did this happen?!?

The cops had to get the pit bull puppy's head out of the wheel. Thankfully, they did.

Painting Projects for Summer

Interested in painted projects that aren't country or cutesy?

These are intriguing...and doable, too.


Go here for more. (Thanks, Thistlewood Farms.) 

Monday, June 23, 2014

Monday Stuff on the Way to Other Stuff: Let's Be Brief

I'm still here. Sort of.

The Mama is still recovering -- and I am staying in Michigan with her. But I leave Saturday to teach for a week at the John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, NC. "Pioneer quilting" is on the menu -- and we're going to have fun. More here if you're curious...there are still a few student spots, if you'd like to participate! This school teaches everything from blacksmithing to clogging -- many of them old-timey arts that need to be kept fresh. I'm looking forward to it. 
   Before I go, though, there are quilt samples to finish, an article or two to write, and final items for PAAQT's annual conference to finish up. (PAAQT is a national quilt appraisers group - head here, if you're curious about that. Yours truly is currently president.)
    Which makes me busier than, as the Brick says, 'A one-legged man in a butt-kicking contest.' But I did notice a few things on the Internet... (photos below, by the way, are from the John Campbell school)

Shakshuka recipes. If you haven't tried this Middle Eastern eggs-and-tomato-sauce dish, you're missing out. It's frugal as all getout, too. (From Livelovelux)

Two cereal boxes and a mirror. That's what you need to make this wonderful wall piece. (From Flimsy Pi)

Mentos. A tank of Diet Coke. Weird.

A mommy blogger, who chronicled her son's struggle with illness -- and his death. Now she's been arrested for poisoning him.

 How some people squander their wealth -- from the viewpoint of a financial planner and her nail polish-loving daughter.

Have a good week.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Seeing Is Believing

Emma Stone and Andrew Barfield, like other celebrities, are pestered to death while going about their everyday lives. So they decided to do something about it.

What a way to pass on your thoughts, while sticking it to the paparazzi! 

(Next time, though, use bigger lettering, so we ALL can see it more easily.)

What Were You Thinking, Hillary?

I have a problem with Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Granted, I wasn't too fond of her husband. (Having to explain the definition of "oral sex," as well as the Significance of the Cigar to my young daughters, years before they needed to know, probably had a lot to do with it.)

Yes, Hillary stuck by her husband then, at a time when any self-respecting wife would have kicked him to the curb. You have to admire loyalty.
    She's also a smart, clever woman -- well-educated and well-spoken.

But is she honest?

Although the Whitewater scandal barely peeps over the horizon nowadays, it was a huge deal when it first was revealed -- and Hillary's fingerprints are all over that particular issue. (Click on the link in the first sentence, if you don't know what I'm talking about.)

She has also been caught in a number of lies and half-truths over the years, including during her stint as Secretary of State. Here's the latest:

During an interview with Diane Sawyer, she all but announced that she and Bill gave their all for the presidency. How could she prove it? They were "dead broke" when they left.

Conveniently forgotten are the $8 million book deal (yes, folks, you read that right), two multi-million homes purchased, and the lucrative speaking deals both Clintons took advantage of as soon as they unpacked their bags. Yep, they were truly destitute.

 Here she is, trying to explain what she really meant:

 Hillary, you also understand what it's like to not be able to pay your bills. You know the heartache of being laid off, and the fear that you won't find work, especially if you're older. You know what it's like to scrape for every penny.
    Sure. Uh-huh.

It's no surprise, then, that pundits are asking, "Can you really trust this woman?"

I am all for intelligent, well-spoken women gaining a stronger public voice and influence. (I am a big fan of Elizabeth Dole, as a result.) And there are voices out there urging me to vote for Mrs. Clinton for president...because, after all, She's Female. (The implication, of course is that not voting for her would brand me as a bigot or a dupe. A traitor to my own sex, literally.)

What I really can't stomach, though, is a public person assuming I won't care about their reputation or morality. If someone says they care about the people they're supposed to be serving, can I feel assured that at the first chance to make a big profit, an 'opportunity' or bribe thrown their way, they won't cut and run?

In the case of Hillary Clinton... I cannot.

* * * * * * * * * *
Personal update:  Still here in Michigan, with The Mama. It's now been a little more than two weeks since her open heart surgery. She is doing really well. Incision's healing nicely, and she gets a little stronger with each day. In fact, she can now walk down the driveway and back without getting exhausted. I can leave her on her own for longer periods, as well. (Which is good, or you wouldn't even be reading this -- The Mama does not have or believe in computers and the Internet. I have to go to the library, where I am now, or my cousin's to get any work done. Thus the periodic silence these past weeks.) 
     But with her health improving, she gets more restless to be Doing Something. And a little crabby. I can't blame her. It's tough to be sick!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Monday Stuff on the way to Other Stuff: (Still) Taking Care of Mom

The Mama slowly continues to improve from open heart surgery. Meanwhile, I make the meals, run errands (easier to get away for a few minutes, now she's getting stronger), hang out when she's got company (a LOT), and act generally as dog's-body to her. 
     It needs to be done...but I've had jobs that were more fun. 

As she heals, the stitches are starting to itch and pull. Then she gets crabby. And I get crabby, listening to her be crabby. I don't have nearly as good a reason to do it as she does, either.
    Sigh. At least the weather's been beautiful and not too humid. (Easy to happen in Michigan.) The fresh fruit is starting to come in -- I'll go pick strawberries tomorrow morning. And life goes on. 
    Selections are a little sparse this week. The Mama does not believe in computers or the Internet, which means I have to go elsewhere for Wifi. But I couldn't do that much because 1) I didn't dare leave her alone too long, and 2) Not seeing that computers are of much value, anyways, she'll tend to call after 45 min. or so, asking where I am. That breaks concentration and messes up whatever I'm doing. Meanwhile:

Funny glimpses of a frugal family. If you live with people like this, you'll enjoy Miser Mom's take on the subject.

What should you do if you lose your job? (From Less Is More, via Moneysaving Mom)

Thirty summertime meals made and stashed -- in three hours. (From Who Needs A Cape?)

A very pretty 'Sashay' variegated scarf. Maybe it's time to start thinking about Christmas presents? (from Frugal Upstate)

You can also find several articles from yours truly on my other main blog, Midlife Finance:
      *Credit cards and other travel bugaboos (important, if you're planning on traveling anywhere this summer)
     *Advice to graduates
     *Copycat recipes (Cut out your regular swing by Starbucks, and save some $)
     *Completely foolproof investing (a clue here: it isn't)
     *Seven tips that don't make sense -- but are effective, anyways!

Back to Mom's...and work. Hope you're having a good week.


Friday, June 13, 2014

Another Great One Is Gone

Another great quilt-lover has left the earth. 

Ricky Clark, a renowned quilt historian, died back in February, after a long struggle with Alzheimer's.

As Barbara Brackman points out, she was especially good at researching red and green applique quilts and floral designs.

I enjoyed paging through her books' photos, as much as I did absorbing their history and details. Ricky had a smooth, engaging style that was very easy to read.

Here, from her obituary:
OBERLIN — Ricarda "Ricky" Clark, 81, died Feb. 21, 2014, in her sleep at Kendal at Oberlin after an eight year struggle with Alzheimer's disease.
Ricky Clark was a noted Ohio quilt historian, having published seven books and eight papers in Timeline Magazine for the Ohio Historical Society. She lectured extensively on quilt history and Ohio's rich ethnic contributions to quilting. Just prior to her final illness she was editor of the Ohio University Quilt Series, which published her last two books.
In 2007, Ricky received the Distinguished Ohioana Citation for lifelong service to the preservation of Ohio's material arts. On the same occasion she was cited for her service to Ohio by the Ohio Senate.
Ricky was active in Oberlin community affairs, an early mover in the Firelands Association of Visual Arts where she initiated 25 years ago the biannual exhibition of contemporary quilts, "The Artist as Quilt Maker." She also organized a representative group of Oberlin women to create the Oberlin Quilt, now displayed at the Oberlin Seniors.
Ricky was a member of First Church in Oberlin UCC for 62 years and very active in its choir. She was a music major at Oberlin College when she graduated in 1954 and had additional training in choral conduction at Union Theological Seminary in New York City.
Ricky is survived by David Clark, her husband of 59 years; a brother, Jonathan of Tucson, Ariz.; sons Jon and Kevin of Oberlin; three grandchildren; and one great-grandson.

Monday (er, Friday...) Stuff On the way to Other Stuff: Still Here

You were wondering, weren't you?

The Mama's open heart surgery was a success -- but it's meant that someone needs to stay with her all the time, if at all possible, while she's slowly been recuperating. And since my brother and sister-in-law have been dealing with their own deadlines and personal stuff, that person has been...
Mom doesn't have Internet access. (She doesn't believe in computers - period.) By some miracle, my new IPhone (which I'm still a doofus at using) picks up e-mail and lets me peck out laborious replies. But unless I go to my cousin's, McDonald's or the library, I'm stuck. And going those places means I must leave Mom on her own. 
   Thankfully, she is walking several times a day, doing her exercises and hanging in there, in spite of some emotional ups and downs. Her incisions are healing nicely. It's amazing what medicine can do, nowadays. 
    I apologize for not getting the Monday Stuff up on -- well, you know -- but we were fresh from the hospital. I didn't dare leave Mom to do it. So here it is. I'm hoping to be around more often, now she's starting to feel better.

'Good and Cheap:' A free downloadable cookbook by Leanne Brown. Great photos, easy-to-follow text...and it's free! Go here to download. 

What to do when your higher-end income isn't enough for the goal you want. One Frugal Girl weighs in on the subject. 

Did you know that Calvin & Hobbes' creator made a quick return to the comics page? Bill Watterson did three strips for Stephen Pastis' Pearls Before Swine, a very rude (and funny) comic. Full story's here. (I thought something looked familiar about those drawings!)

A slideshow of funny church signs. Including the following, which my "we had a horrible winter" Michigan relatives can relate to!

If it's my money, can I spend it any way I want to? Making Sense of Cents tussles over whether you should be listening to other people telling you what to do. (I think you know how I feel on this, just by the way I'm describing it.)
     I keep thinking of:

Top countries to be a mother in. I still think this is a little goofy...but the statistics are interesting. (In case you're wondering, the U.S. is #31.)

A hall-tree literally made from bits and pieces of furniture items. Even if you don't make it, this post will give you lots of ideas for combining furniture and wood scraps and leftovers. Clever girl. (From Thrifty Treasures)

How to open a can without a can-opener. You'll need this some day. Trust me.

If your grandma made Jello...you need to read this. (It's the reason why, to this day, I still shy away from the quivering stuff.)

An easy frozen margarita. Boy, this sounds good. (From Who Needs A Cape)

Warren Buffett's best 23 quotes about investing.

An intriguing 'stop bullying' strategy that might just work. (From Reader's Digest) Also:

Thirteen secrets top personal organizers use -- over and over again.

Ten items you don't tend to pack for a trip...but should. (I'd add clothespins and a long piece of string. Both have come in handy for multiple uses, including a makeshift clothesline.)

Dealing with your finances honestly. One person's story -- including an honest look at how he grew up. (And how it affected his financial decisions. From Mike Robbins at Blogher.)

"His Master's Voice" salt and pepper shakers. Plus the story behind them -- from It's All Connected. That's these shakers:

And the painting that inspired them.

And yes...

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Food Choices When Your Budget is Tight -- Or Nonexistent

     Eating at the hospital cafeteria lately is an exercise in choice. For one thing, the food is not so wonderful that it tempts me to indulge. (Though it's better than what The Mama's getting on her trays. Who in the world thinks that burned sauces and overcooked meats are going to encourage people to eat?!?) For another, most items are overpriced, for what you get. I have the cash to buy a lavish breakfast or lunch -- but something in my Hollander blood says, "Wait a minute. Can't you use that money to buy [insert here] instead?"

     I've found myself slipping back into tricks I used as a poor college student and newlywed, to keep myself and the Brick reasonably healthy and well-fed. Some come especially handy when you don't have access to a stove, or are making do in a hotel room for a few days.


*Choose your proteins wisely. Right now, beef is expensive -- which means you're often smarter to substitute chicken, pork or fish, instead. Case in point: the sandwiches here. A burger is nearly $5 -- but I can get a grilled chicken or fish sandwich for $2. (Yeah, I know...it's healthier, too.) Now move on to:

*The condiments section -- your friend. Sliced tomatoes, onions and several lettuce leaves gave my sandwich the equivalent of a salad, for no extra cost. The same expanding trick happened at breakfast. A scoop of salsa, generous sprinkling of cheese and cottage cheese alongside turned  hashbrowns and sausage patties into a full meal, with more protein and veggies. (I could have transformed scrambled eggs, for even less.)
     I am not a fan of stealing packets from the local fast food place -- but you're not, if you're purchasing sandwiches there. (Warning: that means a few packets -- not a handful.) Salsa, chopped onions and salad dressing add zip to plain foods. Lemon or lime juice, with a packet or two of sugar, turns plain water into lemon or limeade. (Try the lemon juice in your favorite soup -- it makes cream soups curdle, though.)
     If you're really hungry, a few catsup packets stirred into hot water make a passable substitute for tomato soup -- something The Mama often resorted to during a desperate period in her life. (Her only cash came from picking up pop cans for change.) Add a few packets of crackers for a more filling meal.

*Keep extra on hand. A tube of peanut butter, more substantial crackers, protein bars and yogurt don't take up much room, and will keep you from being forced to Buy Stuff. I also like nut-based candy bars, like Snickers. Keep a set of cutlery in your bag, as well, for quick purchases at the deli and...


*Use the grocery store...especially if you can find an ethnic one. Better for you -- and cheaper, too. Our local King Soopers was good -- but the Vietnamese store was even better. Not only could we find veggies and fish (much fresher than Soopers!) for less, but we could purchase better-quality. We ate a lot of ramen -- but it was Sapporo Ichiban, infinitely better than the no-name brands. And we got it on sale at five packages for a dollar.

     I still hit the Oriental grocery markets in Denver, when I get up there -- but the local Sprouts store gives me incredible buys on veggies (green and red peppers, 2 or 3 for a buck!) and fruit, in between.

*Think basics and sale items. What's the cheapest source of protein? Don't forget to factor bone-in vs. boneless -- though there is a valid argument that bone-in meat is tastier. (In the case of chicken, I figure chicken bone-in breast should be 50% or less than boneless.) In Michigan, we ate a lot of bone-in chicken breast, smelt (a small fish you fry and eat, bones and all), hot dogs, eggs, stew beef...and the best bargain of all -- calamari. (Yep, that's right -- squid. In Michigan.) Colorado's best buys were chicken and eggs, but also rainbow trout, pork chops and ground beef. (The latter is now, sadly, one of the most expensive proteins on the market. Use ground turkey or chicken, or do what my sister Lori does-- mix it with ground beef, 50/50.)
     Or whatever was on sale. If it was a rock-bottom price, I bought several and stashed them in the freezer. I made a lot of soups, stews and casseroles, to take advantage of every bite of food.
     Then again, if things were really tight, we ate a lot of scrambled and boiled eggs, ham, beans and rice (the ham bone comes in handy here), cheese, tortillas, peanut butter (the Brick had a PB&J sandwich nearly every day in grad school), homemade bread and canned chicken noodle soup. Going vegetarian helps -- but honestly, we like our meat. If money is tight, I just cut down on the amount of meat I use. We also eat hearty things like oatmeal, quinoa and such.

*Think clearance -- or salvage. Make a quick stop at the clearance section part of the trip whenever you use the grocery store. You never know what you'll find -- I've snagged even steaks, fresh oysters and crab legs for a fraction of their cost. Bread, rolls and cookies come in for pennies on the dollar, too.
      Look hard for a salvage store in your area. It took me years to find the Friday/Saturday store up in Denver -- but was more than worth it. Goods may be post-dated, but they're still supremely edible. And they're often luxury items: I've routinely bought English cheese, Irish butter, olives, specialty sauces and unusual crackers for less than their everyday counterparts.

Keep your food costs lower, and you've got more to spend on important things. Every extra dollar helps!

Saturday, June 7, 2014

26 Famous Art Heists

A new nibble from Mental Floss:

Good to Remember This Now...


I feel like that's where I've been. 

A week teaching in North Carolina -- wonderful.

Then a week, staying with The Mama in Michigan, while she's had open heart surgery.
    Not so wonderful.

She's been a champ, in spite of someone cutting into her heart, and replacing a valve. (She says she can "moo" now because the replacement was bovine tissue.) She even said I could show you a photo of her convalescing.

The tubes are pretty much out now, other than some "just in case" spots. She's started walking the hall, getting stronger and eating more each day. The doctor says it's a strong possibility that she can go home tomorrow (Sunday).

Which is great.

 But since Wednesday, my days consist of 1) getting Mom up, 2) getting her down, 3) running to fetch things she forgot, or 4) fill in the blank -- but it's Mom-related.
     I sleep at the hospital. I eat at  the hospital. I exist here...I guess. It's hard to tell.

I miss the Brick desperately. I miss our girlies, our dogs, our life together. I would love to be able to make my own food, to sleep on something besides a converted couch. And best of all, not to have people traipse in at 2:30, 3:30, 5:30 a.m., and so on.

The Mama needs me. She took care of me so often as a kid -- I need to stay now to take care of her.

I will do this, because it's right. But it's a strong reminder that the right things aren't always the easiest to do.